Discussion on the state of cloud computing and open source software that helps build, manage, and deliver everything-as-a-service.
Outsourcing Goes A La Carte
There was an interesting article in Network World yesterday about how the new HP/EDS has decided to start offering their outsourcing business à la carte. Reading it, I was struck by the contrast with the outsourcing projects of 4-5 years ago, when the goal was to find...
There was an interesting article in Network World yesterday about how the new HP/EDS has decided to start offering their outsourcing business à la carte. Reading it, I was struck by the contrast with the outsourcing projects of 4-5 years ago, when the goal was to find someone who was better at running IT and turn over as much of the operations as you could to them.
I think this is a pretty good sign that the bento-box approach to outsourcing contracts is pretty close to dead. I'll never forget a meeting with the few remaining IT executives from a large Swedish company who had outsourced everything to HP in '02. For an hour, these guys complained about all of the difficulty they had trying to keep their business agile when they were tethered to another company incented on stability and availability (and selling additional HP servers/software).
Cloud Computing is starting from the opposite end of the spectrum. Today, I can put together almost any combination of infrastructure (Amazon), custom apps (AppEngine), packaged applications (Salesforce.com), and even security (Catbird), and each of these offers many different choices of service levels and functionality. There are even companies emerging who specialize in mashing together these different services, and companies like Symplified, that make it possible to manage users and get single-sign-on across these different systems.
At the same time, there are cost benefits to be had from buying a big chunk of core functionality from a single service provider and sticking with them for a reasonable amount of time. I've talked to service providers who are trying to build "virtual datacenters" in the cloud, where a company can provision a private network, and choose from a menu of infrastructure and apps they want to run on it (i.e. Exchange, spam filter, SugarCRM, Apache, WebLogic, etc.). The idea is, the more you buy, the better the deal you get.
Regardless, there doesn't seem to be much going back to massive single-vendor outsourcing deals, which is definitely good news for almost everyone.